There has been little concrete information about the type of offense Greg Schiano wants to run other than saying it will be a physical style of play which also takes shots down field. Once we look at the Buccaneers hires these past two weeks, things get much clearer. Lets look at the coaches on the offensive side of the ball and their specialties.
Jimmy Raye (Senior Offensive Assistant):
Raye is a product of the Don Coryell days, using a combination of power running and vertical shots down field. Sound familiar? It is exactly what Schiano wants implemented and something the Buccaneers have the talent for. To run the system correctly, an offense needs two physical wide receivers with speed and a tight end capable of getting vertical as well. Guess who was the first tight end to run the Coryell system with major success? None other than Kellen Winslow Sr. Think he might be able to show his son a thing or two? Think all those days of coaching a young Kellen Jr. weren’t based on the same system the Bucs are about to institute? While many believe the Buccaneers should part ways with Kellen Jr. because he may not fit, the opposite should hold true. If he’s healthy, Winslow could have his best year as a Buccaneer. We very well could see plenty of two tight end sets given the potential of Luke Stocker. Raheem Morris selected him last year to be the heir apparent to Winslow and the two will cause plenty of mismatch problems. Also, Raye is likely to use the digit system, something which is perfect for a young team and a topic I will discuss when we get to Legarrette Blount.
Bob Bostad (Offensive Line Coach):
By now it should be obvious the Buccaneers are not built for a “zone” run scheme. This offensive line has always had the talent to push vertically rather than moving laterally. Knowing your personnel is half the battle and Bob Bostad’s focus on preparing his linemen for the power run game is second to none. Bostad currently has 11 players in the NFL and was one of only two colleges to see 3 linemen get drafted a few seasons ago. Plus, things don’t get overly complicated. You know your assignment when the play is called and then it is a simple matter of over powering your opponent. The whole offensive line will finally be using the talents they were drafted for which in turn will produce a much more efficient run game.
Earnest Byner (Running Backs): Byner ran the power game to a Super Bowl ring in 1992 under Joe Gibbs. Running behind the famous “Hogs”, Byner amassed 1,048 rushing yards with with 5 touchdowns. He totaled 8,261 yards with 56 touchdowns in his 14 year career. In other words, he knows a thing or two about the position. Now we can get to the digit system. Legarrette Blount is a big boy and the old zone system saw Blount with too much hesitancy and too many poor choices. The power run game combined with a digit system streamlines everything. Instead of a complex glossary of terms in the huddle, Josh Freeman will give a “digit” based route call to the wide receivers and a specifically labeled run play to Blount. This style will let Bostad’s offensive line know their assignments while letting Blount know where the hole will be. It is a one cut system which gives Blount a direct order while allowing him to improvise if a lineman get ran over. Byner will be able to focus on the basics of the run game with Blount and focus on a small range of plays instead of going over “what if’s”. The result will be a more downhill runner in Blount and the potential for a breakout season since he will many times have a fullback or guard leading the way.
Mike Sullivan (Offensive Coordinator): Though this is Sullivan’s first stint as offensive coordinator, he will no doubt install the Jimmy Raye (Air Coryell) digit system. He helped Eli Manning improve each season and his main draw to Tampa (other than a promotion) was Josh Freeman. In Arelious Benn and Mike Williams, Sullivan has his Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Albeit, not as polished. Still, the talent is there and Sullivan should be able to get the most out of their vertical talents. Also, the Giants ran a power run offense which is very similar to what the Buccaneers are implementing. He has the whole Giants playbook to choose from and incorporate here in Tampa.
To make all of this easy to digest, the Buccaneers will look very similar to the San Diego Chargers offense. Phillip Rivers has been a top tier quarterback for years because of the system, racking up yardage and touchdowns. Norv Turner runs the power offense digit system and for the most part has been provided a team in the playoffs more often than not due to their scoring. Best of all, this system simplifies everything without sacrificing unpredictability. For one of the youngest teams in the NFL, simplicity is key. Letting the young players use their talents instead of forcing a 8 inch playbook on them should wield positive results. After a 4-12 season, how could it not wind up positive?